Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicts six more weeks of winter in US

Punxsutawney Phil's handler, AJ Dereume, holds the famous groundhog during the 136th Groundhog Day, on Feb 2, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Don't put away those coats and mittens just yet, America. Punxsutawney Phil, the world's furriest weather forecaster, is predicting six more weeks of winter.

In an annual Feb 2 tradition, the groundhog emerged from winter hibernation in his burrow in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday to test the weather.

According to his handlers at the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, established in 1887, the rodent saw his shadow and scurried back inside, auguring six more weeks of winter.

No shadow and it would have been an early spring.

Phil's forecast is in line this year with that of the National Weather Service (NWS) - at least regarding the next few days.

The NWS predicted on Wednesday that a "large-scale and massive winter storm will impact the Central, Eastern and Southern US over the next two to three days."

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Phil and his recent predecessors, also named Phil, have gotten it right 40 per cent of the time over the previous 10 years.

A number of towns in the United States and Canada mark "Groundhog Day" but Punxsutawney Phil is the most celebrated of the rodent weather prognosticators.

A town in New Jersey had to cancel its festivities this year, however, after its groundhog, Milltown Mel, died just days before the event.

Groundhog Day is also the title of the 1993 cult classic movie featuring Bill Murray in which he wakes up and experiences the same day again and again.

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